Waiting out flight delays at the airport
Waiting out flight delays at the airport Israel news photo: Flash 90

The volcanic ash cloud that grounded flights all across Europe last month has returned to Britain. Flights across parts of the United Kingdom were cancelled Sunday due to the “rapidly encroaching” fresh cloud of ash coming in from the northwest due to the eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokul volcano.

In Ireland, a no-fly zone was imposed on Belfast International and Belfast City Airports, and on the Isle of Man at least until early afternoon. Dublin airport remained open. The cloud was also expected to head towards the southeast of England, where busy Heathrow Airport is located.

Scientists predicted the cloud would be hanging over London by Tuesday but were hoping it would leave British airspace by Wednesday. British ministers agreed to make five-day ash-prediction charts available to airlines, other transport providers and the public, beginning at the weekend. Up to this point, only 18-hour forecasts had been available.

The looming possibility of another day's shutdown at London airports due to a fresh volcanic ash cloud is just another bit of bad luck on top of an already-tense situation affecting British travelers. Cabin crew union members at British Airways were preparing to strike from Tuesday to Saturday, then from May 24-28, May 30-June 3, and June 5-9, ending just two days before the start of the World Cup in South Africa.

Meanwhile, the German Aerospace Center and Lufhansa Airlines were also both preparing to carry out test flights on Sunday in order to measure the ash concentration. However, German air traffic control said it was unlikely air traffic would be affected by a possible return of the cloud before Wednesday.

As in April, when the ash cloud from the volcanic eruptions first began shutting down airspace across Europe, travelers are urged to check with their airlines for updates on their flights.